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Texas Department of Agriculture – Termite FAQ

What should I do if I have termites in my home or if I think termites are damaging my home?

Do not panic. Most types of termites do their destructive work very slowly. If your house has never been treated for termites by an exterminator, contact several local pest control companies and get estimates for their termite control services. These same companies can inspect your house to see exactly what types of pests are attacking your home. If you are not sure you have a termite infestation, an inspection will reveal if a visible termite infestation is present. If you have termites swarming (flying around) in your house, the swarmers can be combated using a variety of over-the-counter pesticides designed for flying insects that are available to homeowners. Termites generally swarm once a year for a period of about twenty-four (24) hours. The swarmer is the reproductive form of the termite and does not do damage to wood. It is helpful to save several of the swarmers in a plastic bag for the inspection by your local pest control operator before a termite treatment is performed

What should I expect from a wood destroying insect inspection?

The first thing you need to know is that any structure containing wood or cellulose material provides a natural food source for subterranean termites. Even structures that are mostly steel and concrete are vulnerable to termite attack. The following list will provide some general conditions conducive to termite infestation: (1) earth-wood contact; (2) firewood stacked against foundation; (3) wood debris in crawl space; (4) wood mulch [within 3 ft. of foundation]; (5) faulty grade; (6) insufficient ventilation; or (7) moisture.

A licensed person will conduct a careful inspection to determine the presence or absence of visible evidence of infestation from wood destroying insects. The inspection will be made in those areas which are readily accessible and where infestation is most likely to occur. No inspection is made in areas that require the breaking apart or dismantling/removal of any objects. Therefore, it is not a warranty as to the absence of wood destroying insects. It is not a structural damage report. A wood destroying insect inspector is not ordinarily a construction or building trade expert and is not expected to possess any special qualifications that enable him to detect the extent of structural damage. Evidence of wood destroying insects is noted in the report.

What does such an inspection involve?

Because a pest control operator has a trained eye and knows what to look for, his examination will be brief but thorough. He will identify evidence of any previous treatments or infestations, any wood-destroying insects present and the damage they have caused and any structural conditions that may make your home especially vulnerable to attack.

What will an inspection cost?

The cost of an inspection varies. However, the fee is usually small. You should keep in mind that even if the results of an inspection are negative - if termites aren't present - your money wasn't wasted. You've purchased peace of mind.

If none of these signs is present, does that mean my home is free of termites?

Answer: Not necessarily. Termites work from the inside out and are very often hard to detect. Especially drywood termites that have no link to the outside and spend their entire lives indoors-in walls, in roofs, etc. The only way you can be sure you're not sharing your home with termites is to have it inspected by a professional pest control operator.

How destructive are termites?

Answer: Nationwide, termites cause over a billion dollars in damage annually-more than all tornadoes, hurricanes and windstorms combined. Because they nibble away slowly from the inside, damage can be very extensive before it's noticed. It's not unusual for a termite to feast on a building throughout a life span of 15 years-and the queen can live and produce eggs for up to 50 years. Undetected and untreated, termites can severely damage and, in time, destroy a home.

How can I tell if I have a termite problem? And, if so, what kind?

Answer: Subterranean termites are often detected during swarming, usually in the spring, when some fly from their nests to start new colonies. Other signs are shelter tubes primarily composed of mud on the surface of walls, joists, piers, chimneys, plumbing and other fixtures. Weak or broken structural members, blistered wood and soil in cracks can also be evidence of subterranean termites. Drywood termites sometimes give themselves away by creating surface blisters on wood and leaving wings or piles of waste that look like sawdust on windows and floors.

Where are termites found in the U.S.?

Answer: Subterranean termites inhabit the 48 contiguous states and Hawaii, but are most common in the southern two-thirds of the U.S. Drywood termites are not as widespread as subterranean termites. They are mainly a problem in the South.

Are there different kinds of termites?

Answer: Entomologists have identified over 2,000 species, 55 of which exist in the United States. But there are only two kinds, basically, that homeowners have to worry about: subterranean termites and drywood termites.

Don't termites attack only old, run-down buildings?

Answer: Termites have been found in buildings as early as four days after construction. Every building fabricated wholly or partly of wood is susceptible. Chemical or mechanical barriers can be established in the construction stage to prevent or discourage termite infestations in new homes.

Where and how do termites live?

Answer: All termites subsist on cellulose, which termites get from wood. Termites are social insects with a highly organized caste system, much like ants or bees. Subterranean termites usually live outside the house in underground nests. Subterranean termites use moisture in the earth to survive. Since subterranean termites also need cellulose, they often tunnel into nearby homes to get it. Drywood termites, on the other hand, need no contact with the earth, because their moisture is derived from the moisture in the wood and home. They live right inside the home and can have multiple infestations throughout the home.

What is the difference between subterranean and drywood termites?

Answer: Subterranean termites usually return to the soil to live and reproduce and are found throughout Texas. Drywood termites, found more commonly in coastal areas such as Houston and Corpus Christi, do not have soil contact but can live inside walls or other wooden building materials.

Schedule your WDI inspection today by calling or texting 281.889.0135 or completing the contact form below.

Texas Department of Agriculture


Neil Arnold
Professional Home Inspector
TREC Lic# 23450
TDA# 801793
TPCL# 796739
P: (281) 715-9755
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